"They tried to kill us. They failed. Let's eat." & "Facts are stubborn things"

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Wed Dec 15 21:59:26 UTC 2004

On Wed, 15 Dec 2004 07:32:30 EST, Bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:

>With a wry grin, he (George Lang of Cafe des Artistes--ed.) repeats the old
>Jewish gallows joke: "They tried to kill us. We survived. So now, let's eat
>--NEW YORK SUN, 14 December 2004, pg. 16, col. 4.
>Fred Shapiro has to have this. It's one of the best food and Jewish
>quotations of all time!
>The second line can be "They failed" or "We survived" or "We won."
>No hits on Newspaperarchive or Proquest??

The earliest Web reference I can find is from April 22, 1998 (citing the
now-defunct Jewish Humor List on the Virtual Jerusalem website):


    Short summary of every Jewish Holiday:
    "They tried to kill us, we won, let's eat."
    (The Jewish Humor List from Garry Margolis)

The joke traveled far and wide on the Internet after then, and it appears
in several books searchable on Amazon published in 2000-04 (e.g., _Alan
King's Great Jewish Joke Book_).  The structure of the joke obviously
resembles the various "grace" jokes that Christians have:

Pass the bread, pass the meat, thank you Lord, let's eat.
Good drink, good meat, good God, let's eat.
God's neat, let's eat.

-- Ben Zimmer

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